The last three verses of Vals’ poem “Mans Cruelty to Nature” that he wrote in 2003.
City proud of trees amidst the homes, spread through the fields,
A place of pure bush-beauty should not expect such tragedy,
That thrust this town with vicious fear into a firebrand battlefield
Surely we were let down by such a feat of foolish travesty?
I wander now through black, bent, lonely, twisted trees,
Where as a child I savoured many misty moments here,
Still; eerie now, no urgent rustling movement through the leaves,
Fools have stolen sounds of chirping vibrant birds I held so dear.
Can the scars of gaping wicked wounds to nature’s precious folds,
Be ever salved and lessons learnt from man’s short sightedness,
Or will the blessed autumn rains bring life’s beauty to behold,
To hide human frailty beneath the newborn forest’s ruggedness?
The announcement to build a Centre of Excellence in Dubbo is a victory for the people of Dubbo, the VFFA, all volunteers, regional and rural people of NSW.
This news is certainly a step in the right direction as it will pave the way for increased regional and rural influence in the RFS Learning and Development Directorate.
The VFFA congratulates MP Troy Grant, Dubbo Regional Council, NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons and NSW RFS Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers for this commitment but does it goes far enough? The VFFA believes that a much larger chunk of the NSW Rural Fire Service, if not all, needs to be decentralised.
After the 2003 Canberra fires, Mr Gary Nairn, MP stated that the House of Representatives, Select Committee heard a consistent message right around Australia:
1. There has been grossly inadequate hazard reduction burning on public lands for far too long.
2. Local knowledge and experience is being ignored by an increasingly top-heavy bureaucracy.
3. When accessing the source of fires, volunteers are fed up with having their lives put at risk by fire trails that are blocked and left without maintenance.
4. There is a reluctance by state agencies to aggressively attack bushfires when they first start, thus enabling the fires to build in intensity and making them harder to control, and
5. Better communications between and within relevant agencies is long overdue.
Very little has changed in the 13 years since the report by Mr Nairn with every increasing bureaucracy, disregard for volunteer firefighters, failures to engage local knowledge and a reluctance by state agencies to aggressively attack bushfires. In fact, the situation has become worse.
It goes without saying that a step in the right direction would be to re-engage with locals and move away from the city-centric management that will never be able to fully understand regional and rural issues.
The only people who can possibly understand regional and rural issues are regional and rural people. This is a no-brainer.
We need to decentralise all of the NSW Rural Fire Service so that regional and rural engagement begins to happen as it once did under local government support.
A coronial inquiry into the Sir Ivan bushfire would be a welcome opportunity to distinguish the facts from the opinions, State Member for Dubbo Troy Grant said.
The NSW Farmers Association passed a motion at their annual conference in Sydney this week to push for a Coronial Inquiry into the fire. The fire, which was caused by a lightning strike, destroyed 35 homes in Uarbry and the surrounding areas. It destroyed more than 55,000 hectares, according to NSW Rural Fire Service, as well as 5700 kilometres of fencing. The blaze burned for about a month. It killed 2000 sheep, 56 cattle, 90 goats and 36 poultry.
“We welcome any opportunity for any inquiry to examine any of these incidents which devastate communities so lessons can be learnt,” Mr Grant said.
As a tribute to the late Mr Val Jeffery, we decided to republish his inaugural speech to the Legislative Assembly (ACT) – 2nd August 2016.
MR JEFFERY: Twenty-odd years ago we believed that the ACT was grown up and ready for self-government. I was one of those who held that belief and I voted for its introduction. I am afraid as I look back that we were kidding ourselves. Sadly, the circus of its introduction has basically extended over 20 years to this day as maturity has not become the mantra of central quality experience. I am just so disappointed as we expected so much and deserved better.
I was born in the Depression and spent my childhood in the shadow of the Second World War and steeped in reality. Although only five years old I remember vividly the declaration of war as I walked into the kitchen at the shop where I was raised and where my mother was ironing and listening to the Prime Minister on the radio when his sad words fell out that “Great Britain has declared war on Germany, and as a result we are at war.” The frightening, sad look on my mother’s face said it all; her shock and despair as much as to say, “Not again”. I can never forget that sadness in her eyes…
Tharwa’s unofficial mayor Val Jeffery had one wish for his send-off following his death last week (18 July 2017): just a plain, simple graveside service at the Queanbeyan Lawn Cemetery.
No-nonsense and no-fuss, just like the man himself. But he could never have stopped hundreds of people turning out on Wednesday to honour his decades of service to the village, bushfire management and rural heritage.
Arnhem Land – Aboriginal fire ecologist, Dean Yibarbuk, explains how traditional fire management practices have kept the country healthy for thousands of years. Recently, his mob have been working with local scientists to adapt the regime of traditional fire management to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Vegetation Management Officer Phil Hawkey describes himself as “on a journey” as he increases his knowledge of Aboriginal traditional burning.
It began three years ago when Phil attended a traditional burning workshop in Orange, New South Wales.
“That was the lightbulb moment,” says Phil, “I tell people I’ve found something new that’s 30,000 years old. It’s done with method, with science, with great care,”
His knowledge took a giant step forward when he attended a traditional burning workshop in Cape York with Group Officer Len Timmins. Then in its ninth year, each workshop moves location. It means that, for his return to Cape York this month, there will be new lessons to learn amid different topography and vegetation.